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The Science of Mitosis and Meiosis

            Cells play extremely important roles in organisms; they regulate bodily functions, compose structures, fight off invading foreign bodies, and cause reproduction. However, not many people know the two overarching categories for cells: somatic and sex. Somatic cells perform 99% of work in the body. From producing mucus, to growing toenails, somatic cells can take all the credit. The other 1%, reproduction, sex cells have all to themselves. This area encircles the tiny categories of sperm and egg. Both somatic and sex cells go through important cycles called mitosis and meiosis. Mistakes often occur when trying to address mitosis or meiosis. Not only do the two cycles have similar sounding names, they also share the same phases: interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase/cytokinesis. Regardless of their similarities, the two cycles vastly differ. Mitosis results in two daughter cells that match the parent cells identically in number of chromosomes and genetic composition, whereas meiosis results in four daughter cells, all have half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell, and none have the identical genetic make. Before either cell cycle can begin, the cell must go through interphase.
             Interphase accounts for 90% of the cell cycles' time. During interphase, the cell hasn't started for either cell cycle. Rather the cell readies itself for the process by producing proteins and cytoplasmic organelles such as mitochondria or golgi bodies. Interphase consists of three subphases: G1 phase ( first gap), S phase (synthesis), G2 phase (second gap). During all three subphases of interphase, the cell grows. Whereas, the chromosomes duplicate only in S phase. Now the cell has enough material to begin prophase for either mitosis or meiosis. The first actual phase of both cell cycles, prophase, focuses on packaging DNA. To start, long strands of DNA condense into chromatin. Since the genetic material has replicated during interphase, two identical copies of each chromosome exist in a cell, called sister chromatid.

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